Despite being able to watch YouTube videos and check emails on virtually every modern phone, sometimes there’s just no substitute for a proper screen and keyboard. Here’s a quick round up of some of the best standalone mobile broadband deals available right now.
A quick note on data and usage. According to 3, 1GB roughly equates to the following over a standard mobile broadband connection: 1000 text emails, 10 hours of web surfing, 32 four minute MP3 downloads and 5 four minute video downloads.
It’s also worth noting that the listed top speeds are theoretical maximums and are highly dependent on signal strength, the performance of your laptop and how busy the network is in your current area.
3 – 3 offers some of the best value for money mobile broadband deals going, inlcuding an 18 month with 5GB of usage every month for just £15 a month. The cost of the 3 USB modem comes included and provides top download speeds of 3.6Mbps. The 3 Mobile Broadband dongle also comes with a microSD card slot, which can take cards up to 4GB in size. This means you can transfer pictures, songs etc to your laptop while staying connected to the net. If you’ve already got a pay monthly phone contract with 3, you can get 25% off. Link to deal.
People looking for a pay-as-you-go mobile broadband deal can also buy the 3 mobile broadband dongle for £20. You can top up your mobile broadband contract whenever you need to use it. The rates for 3 mobile broadband pay-as-you-go are: £10 for 1GB, £15 for 3GB and £35 for 7GB to be used over a 30 day period. Currently you can sign up for mobile broadband with 3 and get a one month subscription to Spotify Premium included for no extra charge. The Spotify offer expires at the end of January. Link to deal.
Vodafone – For £20 you get 4GB a month, speeds of up to 7.6Mbps and free security software. The Premium PC protection bundle includes anti-virus and anti-spyware tools plus a firewall and spam filters meaning you can surf on the move in safety. This is a 24 month plan, so if you want in you’ll have to commit to a long term contract. Link to deal.
Vodafone’s pay-as-you-go deal gives you access to 3.6Mbps and there’s no contract. A £15 top up gives you a 3GB data allowance which lasts for up to 30 days. There is also a one-off cost of £35 for the USB dongle which like the pay monthly dongle features a microSD card slot which can hold up to 4GB. Link to deal.
O2 – O2’s mobile broadband contracts allow you to make use of unlimited Wi-Fi at over 7,500 hotspots in the UK ran by BT Openzone and The Cloud. This includes Wi-Fi hotspots in Starbucks, meaning you can surf the Web while enjoying your low-calorie hazelnut sprinkled grande soya latte. O2’s 18 month (3GB) deal costs £15 a month and comes with a USB dongle that features an LED which changes colour; green indicates GPRS/EDGE, blue equals 3G and turquoise means you’re connected to HSDPA. The top speed available on O2 mobile broadband is 3.6Mbps. Link to deal.
O2 pay-as-you-go mobile broadband gives you access to the above Wi-Fi hotspots and a set amount of data. £2 gets you 500MB to be used within 24 hours, £7.50 gets you 1GB for a week and £15 gives you 3GB – same as you’d get from the above pay monthly contract, only without the long term commitment. Link to deal.
T-Mobile – T-Mobile’s ‘Mobile Broadband Plus’ deal offers the same amount of usage as the O2 contract deal but is slightly cheaper at £10 a month for the first three months. Speeds are quoted at 4.5Mbps, and the USB dongle features a microSD slot which can hold 4GB cards. This allows you to easily transfer files to and from your laptop. You don’t get unlimited Wi-Fi included in the 3GB of usage, so no Starbucks action for you. Link to deal.
T-Mobile’s pay-as-you-go mobile broadband plan allows you to browse for £2 a day, £7 a week or £15 a month. Whichever option you choose there is a 2GB fair use policy. The USB modem costs £20 and the top speed available is 3.6Mbps. Link to deal.
Orange – Orange’s flexible 12 month 3GB ‘Early Bird’ package provides unlimited usage between midnight and 9am every day as well as the 3GB monthly limit. This makes it a good choice for students working on a final year dissertation. Similar to Vodafone, top available speeds with Orange mobile broadband are quoted 7.2Mbps. The Orange 515M USB modem also features a microsSD slot and comes with a free 8GB card. There’s a one off £20 fee for this dongle, which is available for a limited period. The standard E1752 dongle is free, and has a card slot but does not come with a card included. Link to deal.
Orange’s pay-as-you-go mobile broadband option comes in the form of a 30 day contract. You can either sign up for a 3GB or 10GB (per month) plan, which cost £15 and £25 a month. There is a one off payment of £20 or £30, depending on which of the two USB modems you opt for. Link to deal.